November 30, 2021

GM hit with recall class actions for 30 million consumers

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GM-Headquarters-1By Amanda Bronstad, The National Law Journal

Plaintiffs lawyers leading the fight against General Motors Co. over its ignition-switch recalls have filed two consolidated class actions on behalf of 30 million consumers across the country.

The complaints, filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, allege GM lied about the safety of its cars and trucks, both before and after it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. GM’s record number of recalls this year for safety defects—not just those associated with an ignition switch—have caused all its vehicles to diminish in value, according to the complaints.

“You see an initial diminution in value after the February recalls that pretty much affect just the ignition-switch cars; and then by March, and particularly by June, we begin to see all GM vehicles are taking a hit, and the hit has been getting worse over time,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle’s Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, co-lead plaintiffs counsel in the cases. “By September, the diminution of value has been increasing.”

GM spokesman James Cain declined to comment.

Both complaints assert claims under the U.S. Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment and breach of implied warranty of merchantability under Michigan law. They also allege violations of dozens of state consumer and fraud statutes. They seek to represent a nationwide class and subclasses in all 50 states against GM as the sole defendant.

Both cite advertisements and brochures touting the safety of GM’s vehicles while listing recalls related to the ignition switch as well as other safety problems, including those affecting airbags, seat belts, brakes and steering.

One complaint, which is 712 pages long, seeks to represent consumers who purchased or leased their GM cars and trucks between July 11, 2009—when today’s GM acquired old GM’s bankruptcy assets—and July 3, 2014. The second complaint, 869 pages long, seeks to represent consumers who purchased or leased GM vehicles before July 11, 2009. GM has moved to bar those claims, as well as consumer actions over recalls not pertaining to the ignition switch defect, in U.S. bankruptcy court.

The next hearing in the litigation is Nov. 6.

IMAGE: General Motors Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

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